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Herbs – but not as you know them

Preparing the stand at Tatton 2010Scarcely a TV cookery programme goes by without the celebrity chef chopping, tearing or pulverising freshly grown garden herbs to add zing to the recipe. Herbs may be a given for the veg plot, but what about using them for their ornamental attributes in borders?

If you’re keen on the idea of a ‘triple whammy’ of pretty plants that are also laden with flavour for the kitchen, medicinal qualities or heavenly scent, head to Hooksgreen Herbs in the Great Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Presenting culinary herbs with the wow factor, the team at Hooksgreen Herbs from Staffordshire is aiming to make a big impression on its debut at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Malcolm and Thomas DicksonHerb guru Jekka McVicar suggested to father and son team Malcolm and Thomas Dickson (pictured) at Hooksgreen that it was time for them to exhibit at Chelsea.

‘We’ll be incorporating distinctive alternatives such as coriander 'Confetti' and basil 'Rubin' which have the same properties as the more common varieties but have a more ‘wow’ look!,’ says Thomas Dickson.

Malcolm (company owner & director) and Thomas are seasoned show exhibitors and already the proud owners of a gold medal or two from shows including the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show last year.

As well as hoping to turn heads with a four metre display, a seed range of 30-plus varieties of their own branded herbs has been introduced this year, including 10 varieties of basil, three new parsleys, dill and two varieties of coriander.

Other flavoursome favourites will include:

  • Blackcurrant sage
  • Lemon verbena
  • Ginger rosemary
  • Blue and white Borage

'Nasturtiums to add a bold splash of colour. We will also show a selection of thyme including caraway, orange scented, lemon and more.

‘Overall we will try to provide the Chelsea visitor with an experience of herbs different to the norm,’ adds Thomas.

From guardsman to plantsman for Malcolm

Staging the display at Chelsea will be a trip down memory lane for Malcolm Dickson. It was 38 years ago that he was stationed at Chelsea Barracks on a short service commission with the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards.

He says: 'I remember looking out of the Officers' Mess window on Chelsea Bridge Road and seeing people carrying enormous plants along the pavement. If you had suggested back in the 1970s that I would be displaying at Chelsea I would never have believed it would be possible!

'The nearest I came to the Great Pavilion was playing cricket next door on the Burton Court cricket ground when the show was being dismantled.'



Mint with a twist

Pineapple mint

The Hooksgreen exhibit wll include a selection of mint, especially the fruit

  • Grapefruit mint ( Mentha x piperata f. citrata)
  • Applemint (Menthe suaveolens)
  • Banana mint (Menthe arvensis)
  • Lime mint (Menthe x piperita f. citrata 'Lime')
  • Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens 'Variegata')
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Nigel Slater on herbs

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Read Nigel Slater's recipes and tips on growing herbs for the kitchen.

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